Story in Brief
Residents of the Heritage Park and Fairmont Communities, in Griffin, have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Barriers to this resource include no nearby produce markets, a lack of transportation, fixed-income or low-wage employment, a lack of gardening experience, and a lack of arable land. Easier access to fresh fruits and vegetables would offer residents a healthy alternative to processed foods. In 2012, the Healthy Life Community Garden was completed at Heritage Park, and featured 22 raised beds and 6,000 square feet of in-ground planting space. In 2019, the county government voted to proceed with a restoration project that would force the closure of the HLCG. In response to the community’s concerns, UGA Extension – Spalding County and Spalding County Parks and Recreation representatives made plans the county allocated land for the future location of the HLCG. In addition to added garden space, a greenhouse, storage shed, and restroom facility would be included. The new garden was completed in July 2020 and is more visible and accessible to both car and pedestrian traffic. It is located within 200 feet of an 80-unit apartment complex (under renovation), the Fairmont Park Recreation Center, and two Griffin-Spalding County Schools, Moore Elementary and A.Z. Kelsey High School, all of which are connected by new walking paths. Collaborators included the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, Griffin Housing Authority, Spalding County Parks and Recreation, City of Griffin, the Spalding County Collaborative Authority, and the Griffin Branch of the NAACP. The new HLCG location occupies 1.5 acres and houses 36 raised beds, with six standing beds for accessibility, 4,400 square feet of in-ground planting space, pollinator garden, and children’s play area. Overhead irrigation and electricity access allow more community members to grow fresh fruits and vegetables and to participate in UGA Extension programs and events. As of October 2020, 12 beds have been planted, with seven maintained by UGA Extension staff and five maintained by Fairmont residents. As of October 2020, the total recorded amount of fruits and vegetables harvested had reached 488 pounds. Any excess or unclaimed produce was donated to Griffin area food banks.